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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine democratic practice in a large ensemble setting. A large (N = 63) auditioned concert band served as the case study for the present investigation. A series of self-guided rehearsals provided the opportunity for the ensemble members to engage in democratic musical governance without a conductor. Mixed-method methodologies were utilized to gain deep insight into interpersonal and musical events that took place during the group’s rehearsals. Several findings provide new insight into how democratic practices function in large ensembles, and how these practices impact music education instruction. Specifically, I analyzed the impact of individual/group preparation and planning, perceived musical benefits to democratic musical governance, and social drawbacks from the self-guided experience. The participants also identified several salient variables for future study, including extensive preparation prior to rehearsals, the use of moderators during debates, appropriate literature selections, and allowing all members to voice their input.

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